DEBATE: Residents hold different views about he proposed Murgon to Proston rail trail.
DEBATE: Residents hold different views about he proposed Murgon to Proston rail trail. Jessica McGrath

'Fear of the unknown': Proposed rail trail divides community

THE proposed Murgon to Proston rail trail would be an asset to the community by connecting towns together for the convenience of locals and giving visitors the chance to discover what life on the land is like in the South Burnett.

That's according to Claire Kapernick who, as an avid user of the South Burnett Rail Trail, has seen first-hand the positive impact such trail can have.

"I have seen the benefits to the community. The tourism that has come about because of the rail trail has blown my mind," she said.

Mrs Kapernick is calling on fellow farmers who oppose the trail to think outside the square about how they could make the most of the tourism it will bring.

"For the farmers I think a lot of it is the fear of the unknown," she said.

"As farmers we say people don't understand what we do but if have someone walking or cycling past there is something there that you can tell.

"Maybe the downside is you won't get any work done because you are forever having cups of coffee with people.

"Let's put our hand up and get it in our region and get people coming to our area and spending their tourist dollars here."

While Mondure farmer Peter Enkelmann acknowledges the tourism benefits the trail could bring he continues to have grave concerns for the viability of the route, as he did in January.

Of particular concern is the trial crossing the floodplain at Byee because the area is farmed and there is an irrigation pipe across the route.

"It seemed that the feeling was that section wasn't a goer," he said.

"There are other issues on the floodplain, it is intensively farmed, and with suggestions there would be bikes and horses on the rail trail there would be OHS issues where the planes spray," he said.

"To avoid going to flood plain they would need to drive because the major hurdle is that the bridge was removed over the creek so that would be a major investment."

Many farmers in the area use aircraft to spray F7-rated herbicides on their crops and Mr Enkelmann said you could not predetermine when spraying would happen and planes needed space to turnaround.

Despite this he understands the positive impact the trail could have and is open to other options with a town and each end of the trial the ideal option.

"We do certainly need to support our small towns if we can and Proston certainly has a lease of line at the moment," he said.

"Hivesville to Proston is quite hilly and would be an attractive ride through there and if that was successful maybe they could then look at coming down to Mondure but there are no services there."

Following community meetings into the feasibility into the proposed trail last week the information surrounding cost and maintenance of the trail will be presented to the South Burnett Regional Council.

Read more about the different sides to the debate about the proposed Proston to Murgon rail trail here